Noah The Evangelist?

The biblical account of Noah is one of the most famous stories in the Bible. When we think of Noah sometimes we picture an old man with a long white beard standing on the deck of an ark with animals in the background. He seems friendly but quiet. In the chapters in Genesis that tell us about Noah, the ark and the flood we do not have recorded for us any words spoken from Noah. We see the Lord speak and Noah respond in obedience.

It can be easy to begin to imagine Noah as a reserved and quiet man who served the Lord disconnected from the wicked culture around him. Scripture says that “the earth was corrupt in God’s sight, and the earth was filled with violence.” If Noah was a righteous man, it might be natural to assume he lived a life separate from the population of those who did this wickedness. We don’t tend to think of Noah living within a neighborhood or city of wickedness but rather in some isolated place perfect for building an ark.

Now Scripture does not tell us whether he lived in a city or outside of a city. We don’t know if his family lived separate from population or in the middle of population. But Scripture does tell us one significant thing: he did not exist disconnected from the culture around him. 2 Peter 2:5 describes Noah in an unexpected way as a “a preacher of righteousness.”

Noah, a preacher?

This is not typically the image we have of this man. We tend to simply think of him as a husband and dad quietly going about his business of building an ark. And yet he wasn’t just called to build, he was called to preach. He was called to preach the righteousness of God to a wicked generation that had turned away from God. He wasn’t just a preacher to a small church where a group of committed Christians gathered weekly to listen to his well-crafted sermons. He was preaching to a world that was full of corruption and violence. He was an evangelistic preacher.

If you are a preacher of righteousness to a wicked generation, you are engaged with people in your culture. You have an outward focus. He was called to preach a message urging people to turn from their sin and away from their wicked ways.

It took Noah approximately 70 years to complete the construction of the ark. For some, this would be a perfect calling. I can just spend my time fulfilling my God-given calling not interacting with people but just working on my home project. If someone asks me to teach a Sunday School class I can just say, “I am sorry, God has called me to build an ark.” If someone challenges me to share the Gospel with my neighbors I can say, “I am sorry but I have a God-given deadline I am working on.”

Sometimes in our lives we want God to give us an ark we can build disconnected from the wickedness of the world or the messiness of people.

And yet 1 Peter tells us that God did not just give him a call to build but a call to preach. Because the heart of God is that His creation is a witness to Him. And the heart of God calls us outward to proclaim Him.

Before I entered into pastoral ministry, I was a video producer. As an introvert, I enjoyed using my gifts to build up the body in more of a support role. I could comfortably blend into the background without having to engage in relational evangelism or discipleship. I was the guy beyond the camera. I was the guy tucked away in the editing room. Through video, I was supporting others who were on the frontline.

One of my video projects involved producing a video for a ministry in Africa. While shooting footage at an eye clinic in Mombasa, Kenya a woman serving at the eye clinic came to me while I was taking a break and said, “Hey, let’s go share the Gospel with the people waiting in line to see a doctor.” Before I even had a chance to respond, she was leading me away from where I was resting. My initial inward response took me by surprise–I was angry. “You can’t just tell me to share the Gospel with someone. I am busy shooting video for this clinic. And by the way, that is not why I came over here.” My inward thoughts quickly filled my mind. But in the moment I didn’t have an opportunity to outwardly object to this invite. She quickly handed me a Gospel tract and took me to a man waiting in line.

Later that evening I thought about my strange and unexpected inward response of both anger and resistance. Why would I not want an opportunity to share the Gospel? Why would I be so quick to resist the opportunity to proclaim the hope I have in Christ?

I realized I had defined my role within the body of Christ and determined that there were things I do and don’t do. I had determined my giftings placed me in a support role that did not necessarily involve sharing the Gospel with people in Africa. I wasn’t the preacher, the teacher, the evangelist—I was the video producer. That was my role within the church. That was how I was living out the Great Commission. Videos became my ark. Let me just do my job over here in quiet, behind the scenes for the glory of God.

But God does not give us that option. He certainly places different gifts and callings into the body of Christ. But no one is exempt from the ministry of the Gospel in our personal lives.

Noah was given a huge task to build something that had never been built before. This would require all of his focus and time and energy. Surely this project would allow him to be exempt from the outward ministry of preaching. And yet it did not. God had also called him to preach. God called him to go into a wicked and evil world and proclaim the righteousness of God. The task did not replace the need to go and tell people about the living God.

Now God might not call you to be a evangelistic preacher but he is calling you to share the hope that we have in Jesus. He is calling us to make disciples of those who do not know Jesus. He is calling us to be a witness to all the peoples of the world.